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Brian Cox is ranked among the best character actors in the business.
Yet, for all his talent, he's seldom chosen as a leading man, instead
being called upon to fill supporting roles as far ranging as the
original Hannibal Lecter (Manhunter) to William Wallace's dad in
Bravehart and William Stryker in X2, the X-Men sequel, among only a few
of his 134 roles thus far. So it comes as a bit of a surprise to see
him handed the lead in Red, a mini-masterpiece of one man's quest for
justice which screened at the 2008 edition of Montreal's Fantasia film
Directed by Trygve Allister Diesen and Lucky McKee (May, The Woods), and based on a story by Jack Ketchum, Red tells the story of aging war vet Avery Ludlow (Cox), whose only remaining companion after a life of tragedy, a dog named Red, is brutally killed by a group of teens. Built upon a remarkably rich, layered and textured script by Stephen Susco (The Grudge), the story doesn't play out as your simple paint-by-numbers revenge thriller. Instead, it unfolds slowly and all too realistically as Ludlow seeks redress, not revenge, from the wealthy father of two of the boys (Tom Sizemore in full sleaze mode), only to be rebuffed by parents and legal channels alike. Even when these attempts fail, Ludlow, ever the civil citizen, tells his story to the local TV news, and launches a lawsuit against the killers.
Drawing parallels between teen dog killer Danny McCormack (Noel Fisher) and Ludlow's chilling account of how his own son single handedly destroyed his family, we're presented with a man whose motivation for justice is driven in large part by a belated attempt to right the wrongs of his past. So much so, in fact, that in the absence of his companion dog, the quest for justice virtually becomes Ludlow's reason for living, to the point where it practically consumes him.
Cox's performance here is nothing short of breathtaking. He carries this movie on his back and is in every scene, mesmerizing you with his nuanced portrayal of a lonely man to whom tragedy has bequeathed a host of inner demons to torment him in his twilight years.
Don't mistake Red for lesser fare such as Death Wish or The Brave One. While it is constructed around a fairly simple premise that on the surface appears primed to appeal to the base human desire for revenge, the story here is so much more than that, and to give it short shrift and dismiss it as mere manipulative movie making would be to miss out on a story and performance that is a true must see.
After seeing the trailer for this a few weeks ago, I decided to read
the source novel before going to the movie. Jack Ketchum's novel is a
pretty taught thriller that stays very realistic in telling its tale of
an old man's increasingly frustrating attempts to get justice for his
senselessly murdered pooch, but the book does feature a gratuitous
romantic entanglement and a final chapter that could have been
completely excised with no loss of the story's narrative power; the
final chapter goes on after the real climax to the story and is in fact
more of an epilogue than a proper ending, but it unnecessarily gives
the reader an all-too-tidy three-way happy ending with an incongruous
bit of tragedy thrown in for good (?) measure. Thankfully the novel's
problems were carefully considered and left out of the film, even to
the point of losing or consolidating some of the minor characters with
no harm done to the overall story.
This is a textbook example of exactly how to handle a novel-to-screen adaptation, and I'd wager that author Jack Ketchum is more than pleased with the translation. Brian Cox always a consummate actor turns in one of his best performances, and the whole cast is equally game, especially two of the boys involved in the attempted robbery and pet-slaying. And for those expecting a seventies-style vengeance flick filled with wall-to-wall guns-a-blazin', I'd advise you to check your expectations at the door. The pursuit of justice follows very legal steps until it's apparent that such an approach won't amount to anything, but even when it gets rough the story stays completely believable. One of the year's best films, and that's no lie.
After reading lots of positive reviews on RED, I kind of knew it was
going to be good..And it was.
It's kind of like the defender who plays well all season but does'nt get the player of the year award!
A brilliant film, but because it has'nt got special effects or a mega star cast it will not get the push it needs to hit the cinemas, but let me tell you. RED hits the spot.
It' about an oldish guy (played splendidly by Brian Cox) whose only buddy is his 14 year old dog called RED. One day out fishing with Red, three young guys turn up and harass him and eventually shoot Red dead.
So now Brian Cox' character wants justice, but two of the guys whose killed Reds' dad is the towns main man, Cox wants revenge!
Basically thats the plot, so simple, but so effective!
No blood and guts, No special effects...Just a brilliant film, no matter what genre you like. You just can't not like this film.
Jack Ketchum's brilliant novel tells the story of an elderly man Avery Ludlow,who has a dog named Red he loves more than life.A simple lonely man he has few good things in his life after losing family members tragically years before.On the day he takes his dog fishing with him,three young boys come along,rob him and shoot his dog for no reason. After this cold-blooded murder he tries to seek justice,but two of the boys are coming from a rich and powerful family.Each thing he tries is thwarted until he takes matters into his own hand.The climatic outburst of violence is inevitable..."Red" is a slow-moving and meditative drama punctuated with sudden explosions of violence.The acting by Brian Cox is phenomenal,the supporting cast is also splendid.Overall,"Red" is a sad and beautiful story about a man and his dead dog.Thank You very much Lucky McKee and Trygwe Aliester Disen for such powerful piece of work.I have seen "The Girl Next Door" and "The Lost",but "Red" is the best adaptation of Ketchum to date.I'm glad that I saw it in the cinema during 2008 Warsaw Film Festival.
Ten reasons why I like this movie:
1. IMDb lists 14 movies named "Red" in the past 30 years and this is the only one I've seen.
2. Productionwas bifurcatedshot by two different directors. But you could never tell, a credit more to the final director, Trygve Allister Diesen, than initial director Lucky McKee.
3. The Carmen Sandiego Factor: The movie is set in rural Oregon, and filmed in Maryland by a Norwegian director. Who would have guessed this could possibly turn out well?
4. Young TV actor Noel Fisher sneers with conviction as he plays Danny--the spoiled, insecure and mean-spirited rich bully--realistically enough to make you hate him.
5. Tom Sizemore plays Danny's dad, an even bigger jerk, and has a natural sneer, which might be drug-induced since the movie was shot before his 2007 prison sentence for another drug conviction.
6. Brian Cox (Bourne Supremacy) is really terrific as Avery Ludlow, the aged protagonist. He's old, fat, bald and has a flawed past. And he's the main man. He's like Mr. Miyagi for the 21st century, except he doesn't know karate.
7. Thankfully, Ludlow does not engage in gratuitous sex with anyone in the movie. While this certainly put the Sundance submission at risk, it was an act of good taste and gracious compassion to the audience.
8. Dogs and puppies make every movie better.
9. The story has all the earmarks of a Greek tragedy, but with a modern American twist. It definitely had a classical feel, including hubris as a fatal flaw, yet still managed to keep viewers fully engaged from beginning to end.
10. Snooty film critics might complain that the wrap-up was trite and contrived, but nevertheless, the ending satisfied the audience, which sure beats the alternative.
I saw Red at the 2008 Fantasia Film festival in Montreal, Canada first
off I'd like to say that i went to see this movie because Lucky Mckee
was attached to it and Brian cox . I was extremely disappointed to hear
what happened to Lucky half way through the films production where he
was replaced by someone else. The final product however one very good
nonetheless Brian Cox was just amazing in this film. Without any
spoilers this films was very touching. Great music, surprisingly had
some action scenes and a great feel to it. I recommend it to anyone who
wants to see something real, touching , and well made.
i give it a 10/10 i had no problems what so ever with this film, left satisfied as well as everyone else who cheered and clapped when the credits rolled
The combination of Brian Cox and Tom Sizemore in a film based upon a
Jack Ketchum novel (bizarrely spelled Jack Ketchmum in the trailer) and
the direction of cult-courting Lucky McKee certainly peaked my interest
and therefore I awarded this film some of my time. The premise was
something that also appealed to me - a kind of "Falling Down" but with
a more mediative, Western styling.
The story is a simple but, on the surface, a powerful one. Brian Cox is Avery Ludlow, a veteran who hides his tortuous family history behind his love for his faithful dog, Red. One day while fishing, he is approached by three delinquents who try to rob him. Realising that he lacks anything of worth, the cocky leader of the pack, Danny, shoots dead his dog, laughs about it with his brother and friend, and then walks off. Ludlow is determined to get justice, but finds hurdles at every stage, from the boy's arrogant father, to a reluctant town sheriff.
The acting in this film was excellent. Brian Cox is superb as the graceful recluse seeking justice. He plays his role in a remarkably understated manner that compliments his experience and wisdom. Whether he is brutally taking on the perpetrators or solemnly reminiscing about the tragic circumstances that led to his wife and son's death, Cox is brilliant at making us feel a warm empathy with him, and makes us want to join him on his quest for justice. Kudos must also be given to Tom Sizemore, who is wonderfully repugnant as Michael McCormack, the arrogant, millionaire father of Danny the delinquent. He really does shine and show what a great actor he can be when he is not in trouble for one reason or another. It would be fair to say that he is much better at eliciting disgust than Cox is at eliciting empathy (although this is a much easier task) and his evolution from his first meeting with Cox, to the final showdown is a joy to watch and anticipate.
The other actors play their parts competently. I was a bit apprehensive about Noel Fisher as Danny at first, as he was guilty of slight overacting in his first scene. However, upon finishing the film, the acting style perfectly complimented his role as a narcissistic youth with no empathy, and overall he was very good in the film. Kyle Gallner, who plays his shy brother, and Shiloh Fernandez as his equally minded friend are also good, with Gallner excelling in the film's climax. The other major part is that of reporter Carrie Donnel, played by Kim Dickens. She is not bad in her role but it is entirely unnecessary, which brings me on to the film's flaw - it's script.
The film really does shine when there are scenes of direct confrontation. Anything between Cox and Fisher after their first meeting, or anything with Sizemore. The film really does suffer when the action is diverted to scenes of a more meditative nature. Donnel's role is far too over played, and her emergence as some sort of bizarre is she/isn't she love interest at the end severely harms the movie. The only things that ties the two together is Cox's consistently brilliant acting. His monologue on how his family fell apart is beautiful and haunting, with the camera lingering on his wise yet hurt face. Likewise, he is respectably sinister in his pursuit of justice, and the film really picks up pace in the final third, building to an excellent climax involving Cox, Sizemore, and his family. Indeed, after a slow, slightly turgid middle, this comes as a great relief. What a shame then that it is spoilt by a horribly put together ending that literally screams "TV MOVIE!" It is far too contrite, and does not favours to Cox or the film. I understand that McKee was replaced by a more happy-friendly director during filming, and his influence is clearly felt here (one wonders how McKee would have done the ending). Other than that though, the film maintains a consistent indie-Western style, and any notions of two directors are not realised.
It is this paltry ending that forces me to award this 7 out of 10. The film has many memorable moments, but is ruined by its final scene. I suggest watching this, if just for the confrontation scenes, and the film does certainly keep you guessing as to how it will end, but if it had just been more adventurous at various points then this could have been a very good film.
I initially thought this film might be OK, but would probably turn out
a let-down, as so many do. I was totally wrong. The film was
unexpectedly very good. If you are an animal lover and a family man,
you should be able to relate to this film and thus should definitely
I found the story very interesting and the acting was excellent. I watched the film whilst having a bottle of wine and this may have made it even better, but I actually found it very touching and even a little emotional. I am not normally the kind of person, who gets emotional watching a film, but this one struck a cord with me and in a way it saddened me, but at the same time, as I could relate to the main actor, he gave me great strength.
Brian Cox played the part tremendously and managed to portray the past tragedies in his life extremely well and with utter conviction. I scored the film 7, but it would be a high 7 and close to an 8. I prefer action type films and slower paced ones like this normally bore me. This one however was far from boring and in actual fact was thoroughly entertaining.
Avery Ludlow is retired and has little left in his life but for his
dog, his store and his health. He finds simple pleasures in the peace
of his life and all the companionship he needs from his dog, Red. Out
fishing one day he a trio of teenagers come across him and politely
start to trouble him and essentially intimidate money out of him. The
leader of the three has a rifle and, for his own reasons, he leaves
Avery with a parting gift of shooting Red dead. Avery is grief-stricken
and tracks down the teenagers, going direct to the main boy's father to
let him deal with it in a manner that will satisfy Avery. However this
fails so Avery tries other legal means to get justice for this wrong,
however his persistence in this matter makes it a bigger deal for the
well-connected family of the man boy.
On the face of it this is a revenge thriller where a man seeks justice and continues to do so even as events escalate in fact, not only on the face of it but indeed that is the narrative arch we are looking at here, no point is pretending to be surprised by it, we all know where we are going with this from when we got on board. However it walks a very impressive line while doing this that prevents it being about the revenge but instead the justice sought, or rather the undefined "action" that Avery seeks someone to hand him that will in some way make up for his loss. This is very well presented because it is clear throughout that ultimately nothing can fill that gap which is part of the reason things continue to build. I very much liked how it did this as it never fell into violence at the expense of the emotional part of the story and it thus keeps it much more engaging than if it had simply because a violent revenge thriller.
Some have said that this is a film for dog lovers as they will appreciate the loss most but I do not think that is true. Although Red is the subject of the loss, it is about more than the dog but also what the dog represents to Avery and as this comes out the scale of his pain and his loss is more engaging and moving. This general feeling of something emotionally valuable being taken unfairly by another is a raw emotion in the film and it was very well done. True it helps to understand the loyal companionship a dog gives a man but even if you don't, the emotion is real and convincing enough to hook you. Praise to Cox for making this work because he is the heart of the film and is the reason we care as much as we do. You can see what attracted him as an actor because the script gives him plenty to work with, including a strong ending that is another part of the film being about the main character's feelings rather than the act of revenge/justice. He acts all others off the screen and the only downside is that everyone else feels weaker than they actually are by comparison.
I thought Fisher and Gallner were both good even if there was room for them to find more of their character and bring it out in ways that were not in the script. Gallner probably does this best as so much of his mannerisms and body language tell you about his place in that family and how he feels his father views him. Sizemore isn't asked to do much but does it fairly well and is a good presence. Riedle, Englund, Plummer, The Wire's Williams and others all give solid accounts of themselves but everyone knows that, while they have lines, Cox has the real character of the piece and mostly they deliver the goods in support without ever shining for more. Considering the budget the film looks great with impressive cinematography and selection/use of locations. You can see where things are implied rather than shown due to money constraints but these do not matter at all and are well done.
Red is not a cheerful film, not is it one that has a "big" ending or impacting telling. Rather it is a patient and slower film that engages thanks to the convincing core of emotion that drives all the action; without this it could have been a simple and emotionally distant revenge thriller. Cox does excellent work to bring this out and produces the goods from the start right to the final scene, while all the others turn in performances that are solidly good. An engaging and emotional film that is much better than the "taking law into own hands" genre that the plot suggests it belongs in.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie is called Red, and it's currently in limited release in
theaters, which means it's nowhere near theaters in my beloved
Charlotte, NC. Red was available locally though to order via
pay-per-view for a slightly higher than normal price, but I figured,
what the heck, it's cheaper than driving to the theater and buying a
Red stars the great actor Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy) as Av Ludlow, a sullen widower and veteran who takes the afternoon off from his country store in an unidentified mountain town and goes fishing with old dog named Red. The peaceful fishing trip turns sour when Ludlow is visited by three teens out hunting, and their proxy leader, Danny (Noel Fisher) decides to rob the old man. Ludlow does not resist, but when he has nothing of value, Danny shoots Red out of sheer spite.
Ludlow buries Red, and goes about finding the boys who killed his beloved dog. When Ludlow finds who Danny is, he goes to the boy's father, a rich man named McCormack (Tom Sizemore), who believes his son's denials rather than the old man's claims. Ludlow wants justice and an apology, but when he doesn't get it he goes to the local sheriff, an old friend (Richard Riehle the guy who invented the "jump to conclusions mat" in Office Space), who can't convince anyone to prosecute the powerful McCormack kid.
Things escalate when the sheriff recommends that Ludlow tell his story to a local TV reporter (Kim Dickens) to put public pressure on the D.A. to press charges. Ludlow agrees, and after the piece airs a series of escalating retaliations begin as Ludlow and the McCormacks come closer to impending tragedy. A rock is thrown through Ludlow's window, Ludlow begins to follow the teenagers, and that's the tip of the iceberg.
The story unfolds on a small scale, at an unhurried pace. Nothing feels staged or inauthentic, even the ultimate showdown.
There are a lot of elements at play in Red, and it's not just about cruelty to animals, though that message is part of it. The TV reporter who does a feature on Ludlow states in the piece: "It has been said that the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way it treats its animals." While Ludlow certainly is defending the rights of his dog who couldn't defend himself, there is no implication that the dog's life is more valuable than the life of the perpetrators, which I have to appreciate. Not that killing a dog isn't a despicable thing worthy of punishment, it's just that during the recent Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal I was dismayed by how many people seemed to regard the crime as worse than murder or rape. It's not.
Ludlow's affection to his dog is in part due to the fact that Red was a gift from his late wife. The scene where Ludlow tells the reporter what happened to his wife and two sons is genuinely heartbreaking. It's a lengthy speech delivered by Cox in a low-key, melancholy fashion that is utterly riveting, shown without visual flashback gimmicks that may have been tempting to the dual directors (Lucky McKee and Trygve Allister Diesen).
Ludlow's dogged (if you pardon the expression) stand is motivated primarily by wanting justice rather than revenge. When the sheriff suggests he can file a civil suit against the McCormacks, Ludlow is dismayed because that would only win him money. Danny has committed a crime, and if he won't admit it and ask forgiveness Ludlow will accept nothing less than justice.
I loved Red, though I don't expect everyone will embrace it. If you liked the pointless though flashy Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, you'll probably hate Red. Red is a drama without a major star; the action occurs in sudden, bursts of violence; and there aren't any particularly happy characters. This isn't fun escapism, it's a serious, tense, meditative drama.
Brian Cox is terrific in the lead. Cox has been a marvelous actor for a long time, the man who actually portrayed Hannibal Lecter before Anthony Hopkins in the 1986 Michael Mann film Manhunter. If you don't know Cox's name, you will recognize his face when you see it he's provided strong supporting roles in such films as Red Eye (no relation to Red), X-Men 2, 25th Hour, Long Kiss Goodnight, and countless others. Given a rare opportunity to be the star, Cox delivers a performance worthy Academy Award consideration for Best Actor.
This is a great movie, easily the best I've seen since the Dark Knight.
Daniel J. Roos (film.ispwn.com)
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